Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Group home fire deaths spur possible NY legislation

From the Times-Union in NY:

ALBANY ­— Last month's fire which killed four disabled people in an Adirondack group residence has prompted a state senator to propose legislation that would give local building inspectors more say in the structures.

"Local officials should have an opportunity to review and become familiar with the layout of these facilities," said Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, whose district includes Wells, where the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities' Riverview group home caught fire.

People living in the home were severely disabled, including some who had years ago lived in the now-closed Willowbrook center on Staten Island.

Following the fire, local officials including Wells Supervisor Brian Towers, complained that they aren't allowed to inspect such buildings or even examine the plans. Riverview opened less than a year ago.

Inspectors from OMRDD conduct their own reviews prior to opening the facilities.

OMRDD spokeswoman Nicole Weinstein said they hadn't yet seen Little's proposal and couldn't comment on it.